We’re now past the midway point of the college football regular season, and surprising Missouri can practically clinch a trip to the Southeastern Conference Championship Game if it beats South Carolina today. Here’s a look at that game and everything else on an SEC Saturday. Lines are according to Covers.com as of Saturday morning.
Vanderbilt at Texas A&M (-17): Fresh off a desperately-needed upset of Georgia, the Commodores roll in to College Station with some bounce in their step for maybe the first time all season. Unfortunately, they also roll in without starting quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels, who hurt his leg and will probably miss a few weeks. It’s not that freshman Patton Robinette is bad, but the margin for error here against an unbelievable offense is just so slim, and Johnny Manziel is the last guy in the world who VU matches up with. The Commodores’ propensity for slow starts hasn’t helped, and I just don’t think they’ve got enough firepower without Carta-Samuels to win, though they’ll score some points. A&M 50, Vanderbilt 38
Tennessee at Alabama (-28): The Vols continue to head in the right direction, but there’s one big problem today, and that’s Alabama’s defense. In this crazy offense-first era, here’s maybe the craziest stat all season in college football: the Crimson Tide gave up 42 points to A&M, but in the other six games, a grand total of 26 points. The Vols make up in grit what they lack in talent, and heart alone may be enough to keep UT in this game into the second half, but expect a methodical, grind-it-out win for ‘Bama today. Alabama 30, Tennessee 10
South Carolina at Missouri (-3): The Tigers must be asking themselves, What do we need to do to get people to believe? Today’s game is aAdd Mediat Missouri, and the home-field advantage being worth three points means that the oddsmakers think this is an even game on a neutral field. Of course, that’s an improvement for Missouri, which was an underdog the last three weeks and won each time, anyway. On the other side, I keep getting fooled into thinking Carolina is better than it is, and without quarterback Connor Shaw, I don’t think it looks good for Caroilna against a Missouri defense that just keeps getting better every week. Missouri 33, Carolina 20
Furman at LSU (-46.5): We’ve seen a bunch of FCS teams give FBS teams headaches this year, and even win several match-ups. This won’t be one of them, though you have to wonder if LSU will be hung over after losing at Ole Miss. LSU 48, Furman 10
Idaho at Ole Miss (-41): Despite the fearsome nickname, the 1-6 Vandals are one of the more feeble FBS teams — in Jeff Sagarin’s latest computer rankings, I count 52 FCS teams ranked above them, and that includes Harvard, Princeton and Yale. On that note, it doesn’t take an Ivy League scholar to pick a winner today, although it might be hard for the Rebels to bring their “A” game after last week’s emotional high. Ole Miss 45, Idaho 10
Florida Atlantic at Auburn (-23.5): I wasn’t high on Auburn coming into this year — remember, the Tigers won three games in 2012 — but two things stand out about them this year that really are bringing me around. The first is consistency — Auburn brings it every week — and the second is a dominant running game, which averages 6.3 yards per carry. FAU is having trouble with the run (4.8 per carry) and that, combined with Auburn’s focus, is why the Tigers cover today. Auburn 41, FAU 13